New opportunities for the region's youth and job seekers became a reality today with the official opening of Ara Rau – Pathways to Work.
The community-led skills and employment hub is the result of a successful partnership between the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment and Priority One.
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the hub was an essential part of the region's plan to meet labour market shortages.
"Our role is to ensure everybody in Tauranga Moana has the opportunity and ability to get a good job locally," Tutt said.
"We're a high-growth region that needs a strong labour supply to keep pace with that growth – and we want to ensure that our local people can fulfil that need."
Ara Rau will operate as a point of connection for job seekers, employers and service providers.
The Ara Rau team will act as a broker between the three, looking to support and enhance existing efforts and ensure each have all the information they need to make better choices.
A group of around 40 key stakeholders from across the region came together at the new hub on Tauranga's Grey St today to celebrate the opening, including Minister of Internal Affairs and Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti.
Tinetti, a long-time advocate of equal education opportunities, recognises the need for the hub and said it was important for the region that rangatahi (youth) had strong pathways between education and employment.
She said 2020 had been challenging for students and job seekers alike.
"Now is the time to build a seamless pathway for our young people, from education to employment, by connecting employers, job seekers and other service providers offering training or pastoral care."
She said this initiative will be vital in helping to address the high number of young people who are not in employment, education or training, as well as significant inequity in educational outcomes for Māori.
"The hub will also reach out to people left unemployed by Covid-19, those wanting to return to the workforce, finishing studies, or even workers with jobs who want to increase their skills."
She said by focusing on skills and employment, Ara Rau will be able to provide a pool of local skilled people to attract businesses into the area. It is expected to place up to 200 people into jobs every year.
Ara Rau operations manager Jay Tihema has spent the last several weeks meeting with industry, government support agencies and key sector representatives.
"Collectively, all our stakeholders recognise that significant change is needed in how we best serve, support and prepare people for the evolving workforce," Tihema said.
"Key to that will also be helping to facilitate a positive, inclusive and empowering employment culture for our region, so that the expectations of employees and employers positively align."
Growth predictions for the region indicate the need to create 25,000 new jobs by 2038, rising to 40,000 by 2050.
In order to meet that demand, Māori need to be engaged. Ara Rau will work closely with Toi Kai Rawa Trust, which is focused on accelerating the potential of Māori across Bay of Plenty.
More information for job seekers, employers and service providers can be found on the Ara Rau Facebook page.